Trader Joe’s Howling Gourds Pumpkin Ale Beer. I’ve been a beer aficionado for many years. I even thought about opening my own specialty beer shop long before the current craft beer craze, but thankfully I didn’t. Trader Joe’s has a long history of contracting out to breweries to make them seasonal beers.
This beer is going after the seasonal pumpkin spice in everything craze that seems to take over everything this time of year. Pumpkin spice only works in moderation and only in a few things like pumpkin pie. Pumpkin Spice in beer is not one of my favorite things. I find that many breweries overdo the spice and by the end of the glass, you just have a bad taste in your mouth.
I like the packaging this year and this is another Josephbrau which is brewed by Gordon Biersch brewery probably in California. I really like Gordon Biersch’s beers for the most part. But I’ll tell you upfront that I have low expectations for this beer.
For starters, Howling Gourds is 7% ABV with 24 IBUs. In searching Untappd, I see that the GB brewpub has brewed pumpkin beers over the years, and in fact, has a Pumpkin Ale listed that offers some clues. The description on that one reads, “Brewed with 56 pounds of pumpkin added to the mash and boil and spiced with an original blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.” However, that’s only 5.5% ABV with 18 IBUs.
This beer pours a medium coppery amber color with a fine, half-finger white head with good retention and lacing. The aroma of mildly biscuit malt, pumpkin, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg; pumpkin pie. The flavor is neutral malt, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a hint of pumpkin. Strong pumpkin pie spice finish with a fading pumpkin note.
Medium bodied with light creaminess. Many “pumpkin” beers seem to be cheap lagers with a lot of spices added, and this is one of them. I’m not a big pumpkin beer fan, but I do want some real pumpkin flavor in the beer; spices should be deftly added, like in a pie.
This year seems to be more cloudy than past years, which I am not a real fan of and they have switched to cans. Thankfully Trader Joe’s sells single cans and bottles of any of their beers so I didn’t have to buy a whole six pack of something.
This is a spiced beer with some modest pumpkin flavor. A miss from the usually reliable TJ’s inexpensive beers. Drinkable and spicy, but not recommended. Plus it’s at 7.0% alcohol so only a couple will knock you on your butt. I say skip this pumpkin spice beer this year. Yuck!
I am going to rate this a lowly 3 Bells. Skip it!